RSA vs Star Trek Writers

Here are some quotes from RSA's attempt to argue Star Trek canon with actual Star Trek novel writers. Keep in mind that these writers are employed by Pocket Books, and so they are quite competent to state what is and isn't Paramount's set of guidelines to licensed authors about what is and isn't canon. After all, Paramount tells its authors what source material they're supposed to be consistent with. In other words, these people are insiders, hence valid sources in their own right. Yet when they say something that RSA doesn't want to hear, he demands sources. Let's go over that again: he is talking to someone who should be considered a source, and he demands a "source" for anything he says. Unfortunately, this is classic RSA behaviour. Here are some classic excerpts:

Dayton Ward (writer): The editors at Pocket repeatedly state that none of the books are canon.
DS2GK (RSA): Got quotes?
Dayton Ward (writer): Even if Mosaic and Pathways ever were considered canon by anyone on the Trek writing staff who wasn't named Jeri Taylor, they're certainly not considered that way now.
DS2GK (RSA): So, do you have anything in particular to support your statements?
Dayton Ward (writer): Support my statements? Am I on trial here?

I don't particularly appreciate the implication that I must be pulling this information from the air or my ass. When it comes to matters pertaining to canon as it relates to the Star Trek fiction I write, I take my direction from the editorial staff at Pocket Books, who in turn takes their lead from the instructions provided to them via Paramount. That's really all the justification I require and as I've already stated, I deal with these people on a regular basis and am therefore inclined to believe they must know what the hell they're talking about.

Think about what this exchange really means. A published Star Trek writer talks about what his editors are saying. These are people he works with directly, on a regular basis. And RSA demands "quotes" and "support" for his statements. He is pretty much getting information straight from the horse's mouth, and he is disputing it! This is exactly the kind of behaviour that anyone who actually knows RSA's behaviour patterns has come to expect.

DS2GK (RSA): if one is going to discuss the canon policy and make claims about its contents, then we've gone beyond the subjectivity of personal canon and into a discussion of objective fact.
Christopher Bennett (writer): Oh, come ON! Let it go, already. You treat this like it's a federal case, like "canon policy" is some all-important law that governs whole lives or something. You're obsessed with something that just has no meaning. We deal with these issues as part of our jobs -- to you it's merely an abstraction. Can't you see how overweeningly obnoxious it is for you to assume that you're a better judge of this issue than we are? If you were really interested in a fair evaluation of the evidence, you would've accepted what we told you months ago. The fact that you insist on dragging out this ridiculous, pathetic argument and dismissing the insights of people far more qualified than you just goes to show that you couldn't care less about objective truth, only about legitimizing your own preconceptions. And it's really, really pathetic.
DS2GK (RSA): I treat it like a subject about which there are objective facts. Virtually any subject has some, and thus can be addressed with equal rigor.
Christopher Bennett (writer): No, you don't, because you've been given the facts by people far more qualified to know them than you, and have rejected them out of hand because they didn't fit your unwavering preconceptions.
...
"Canon" is something that fans obsess on, but it's not something that the actual makers of the show care about that much. Canon is the show itself; everything else is supplemental. Paramount and the producers of the Trek shows and films are mainly concerned with the shows and films. The tie-in materials are read by at most two percent of the audience for the shows and films, so they really don't pay that much attention to them. So to them, canon is a non-issue, because everything they make is intrinsically canon, and everything else is incidental. That's why there isn't some big, important declaration of "canon policy" on their site or whatever -- because they don't need such a policy. It's just the way things naturally happen to work.

All these overblown fan debates and arguments are therefore just the fans manufacturing their own beliefs and problems and making all sorts of trouble for themselves. The people who make the shows know what canon is; the people who write and edit the tie-ins know what canon is. It's a very basic and simple issue: the shows are the canon, the original work; everything else is only a supplement. Whether anyone chooses to acknowledge a supplemental, tie-in work as "real" in their own mind is a matter of individual opinion, and no sort of formal "policy" has any bearing on it whatsoever. That's all you need to know.

Yes, you read that right. RSA actually thinks that his precious "canon policy" is a matter of "objective facts", when in fact it is nothing more than whatever "the powers that be" at Paramount want it to be on a particular day. And if he thinks they take it even a tenth as seriously as he does, he is flat wrong. If you look at the exchange you may notice how very seriously RSA takes himself and his "canon policy". As Mr. Bennett pointed out, he really does treat it as if it's a congressional hearing or something. He's talking to people who work directly with the editors in question, and he is demanding that they provide proof for their statements about what these editors are saying to them!

Kevin K (writer): DSG2k, let me see if I understand your position:

Because the professional authors who write the Star Trek novels and the editors who select and oversee the production of these novels and the publishing house which prints and distributes the novels and the company which holds the license for producing all things related to Star Trek are all in unanimous agreement that absolutely nothing except the live-action television episodes and movies are canon, they are mistaken because the facts disagree with opinions posted on your website?

Despite your opinon that Paula Block and her department do not exist, those of us who do this for a living have to deal with every line we write being vetted as consistent with canon -- though it is referred to as continuity in house. We know exactly what we are talking about. There are no grey areas. And it's more than a little annoying to have someone who has contructed their own fantasy of "how it ought to be" accuse us of dishonesty and ignorance when we share this information.

From the FAQ section of the Star Trek submission guidelines:
Quote: 11. Must my stories stay consistent with other published Star Trek fiction?

Yes and no. While we do strive for consistency among the different Star Trek stories we publish, we understand that not every aspiring author may be familiar with Star Trek fiction. If we like your proposal, we may work with you to make it consistent with other books. The most important thing is that any new Star Trek submission be consistent with the continuity of the various TV series and movies.
I understand you have the most frequently visited site concerning Star Trek canon. As a service to those who visit your site, you should either post the truth or clearly state that the site reflects only your opinion and is a work of fiction.

Of course, if you read the entire exchange, he tries to be more civil than normal (he is, after all, talking to published Star Trek authors). But the Essential Darkstar™ still shows through. He asked a question, didn't get the answer he wanted, and then started arguing with the very people he just asked! Why ask a question if you reject the authority of the respondent to answer?

Of course, there is a higher authority available: Paula Block, who is in charge of all Star Trek licensing at Viacom. And guess what Darkstar's next move is: yup, you guessed it. He's going to demand answers for Paula, and call her out by name.

Continue to RSA vs Paramount



Valid HTML 4.01!Valid CSS!This website is owned and maintained by Michael Wong
This site is not affiliated with Lucasfilm or Paramount
All associated materials are used under "Fair Use" provisions of copyright law.
All original content by Michael Wong is copyrighted © 1998,2004.
Click here to go to the main page